New heights reached at Athlone IT Grand Prix

By Dave Hooper

It was a night of stadium and competition records at the Athlone IT international meet where a total of seven records were broken by the international field.

Pole Vault World champion Shawn Barber brought the house down jumping to clear 5.77 metres, the highest indoor pole vault jump ever completed in Ireland.

The Canadian smashed the 13-year-old record held by Russian Yevgeniy Mikhaylichenko, with the top four vaulters, American Sam Kendricks, Britain’s Max Eaves and Adam Hague, all jumping higher than 5.40 metres, the previous best.

Shawn Barber of Canada meets fans after competing in the men's pole vault event at the AIT International Athletics Grand Prix. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Nancy Chepwemoi of Kenya was the first to break a stadium record in the futuristic Athlone IT international Arena, posting 4.08.96 for 1500 metres.

That time bettered Gesa Krause’s record set last year by some four seconds. Kildare woman Rose-Anne Galligan set a new personal best of 4.11.07 to finish third behind Chepwemoi.

The very next race saw another new record as Canadian World 800m silver medallist Melissa Bishop clocked 2:00.60 to win over 800m, taking two seconds off Ciara Everard’s record.

Brian Gregan could only look on as his rival Czech Republic’s Pavel Maslak came within a stride of breaking the Dubliner’s 400 metres stadium record.

Gregan put in a good fight, sticking with his man early, before Maslak made a break just after the bell to equal Gregan’s record of 46.07.

Gregan showed a return to form as he targets qualification outdoors for the Rio Olympic Games, finishing second in 47.62 seconds.

Ethiopian Dawit Wolde wrote himself into the history books, posting the fastest indoor mile in Ireland ever, clocking 3:54.02.

Wolde had far too much for the Irish athlete’s in the field and took up the pace just before half way, once pacemaker James Leddingham had stepped off the track.

Czech athlete Filip Sasinek took second place behind Wolde, stopping the clock at 4.00.07, Eoin Everard was the first Irish man home in fourth place in 4:03.16.

American Barbara Pierre landed the women’s 60 metre stadium record in a flying 7.12 seconds ahead of Olesya Povkh in 7.23 seconds.

Lisburn runner Amy Foster finished third in 7.33 seconds, just 0.01 outside the qualification standard for next month’s World indoor championships in Portland, USA.

Further records dropped in the Women’s 60 metres hurdles where American Kristi Castlin broke Portugal’s Eva Vital’s record of 8.29 seconds posting 7.92 seconds.

While the final record of the night was reset in the men’s 60 metres as American D’Angelo Cherry smashed the all-comers records flying home in 6.58 seconds.

Elsewhere Mark English set a World lead time in the 500 metres, posting 60.93 seconds, at the indoor international in Stockholm.

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